Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
SEAMAN — Wylie Shipley’s resume speaks for itself.
The 5-foot-10 wing continues to add to that document on a game-by-game basis.
And when North Adams needs a big shot, guess who the Devils alway seem to find … No. 5. And nine out of every 10 occasions, Shipley delivers. After all, nobody’s perfect.
After the Devils’ regional final run last season, one that Shipley had a huge hand in piecing together, Shipley and her classmates are looking for more of the same.
Only this time, it’s their last go-around.
The seniors have currently led the Devils to a 13-1 record and a 9-1 mark in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference. We caught up with Shipley to discuss her legacy, her ability to show up in the most important moments, what motivates this group and much more.
Question: Let’s start with your knack to rise up in big moments. Since I’ve covered you, when a big shot is needed, Wylie Shipley is there to hit it. What motivates you to come up big in huge moments?
WS: In big games, I always have a lot of adrenaline pumping through my veins. My favorite part about playing basketball is the crowds, fans and all the loud noises. My motivation to step up in big games is the feeling that comes after hitting one of those big shots. I love getting the high fives from teammates and seeing our score increase as we get closer to a win.
Q: As a team, you’ve now won 13 straight. What’s been the key to this season’s success and how do you sustain it?
WS: As bad as it may sound, usually a loss is what it takes to get our fire burning. The games since have been much, much better. I would say our success thus far has come from getting in rhythm as a team and learning our roles when we’re out there. Gaining confidence has been key since we lost a whole summer of play. In order to keep the momentum, I think we just need to continue to play as a team and stay focused on executing in tough games.
Q: Why is this team better than last year’s Elite 8 squad? What sets it apart?
WS: I wouldn’t go as far to say that this team is better than the Elite Eight squad, but definitely different. Last year, we had only two seniors and the rest of the varsity team consisted of juniors and one sophomore. This year, we are more well-rounded in regard to age. We have some pretty energetic underclassmen that play aggressive defense and handle the ball well. We still have the majority of that Elite Eight team, so we’re in good shape.
Q: You girls have a roster full of players who could score 20 on any given night. How important is balance in your locker room?
WS: Having the variety of players that we do is pretty rare. We have multiple defensive threats, as well as girls that are capable of sinking 3’s throughout a ballgame. I have personally been in every position on the floor throughout my four years of basketball. Our team is very used to switching around spots and adapting to different game situations when it comes to foul trouble or injuries.
Q: Those young players can really hold their own. What do you hope to teach them during this season?
WS: I hope to teach our younger players how to be leaders on the court and better people off the court. Our program is driven by family, faith, and love for one another. The goal is always to win ball games and get better in practice. However, our coaches have instilled good morals and values in us and it’s my hope as a senior to further model those good qualities.
Q: How far can this team go in a tournament sense?
WS: I feel that we’re extremely capable of making a long tournament run again. Our team gets better and better each time we play. As long as we continue to stay focused and disciplined, we will continue to succeed in tournament play. We know how far we can actually go this year, so there’s definitely a lot of fire burning inside us.
Q: What do you hope your class is remembered for at North Adams?
WS: Obviously, my class and team of girls is going to be forever remembered as the ones who won a district title and made it to the Elite Eight. But honestly, I want us to be not only remembered for how we played for our teammates, coaches, and community, but for our Lord and Savior, too. Our team has experienced great amounts of loss together and faced unimaginable levels of adversity, especially this year. Through the hardest times, we have continued to lean hard on each other, give glory to God, and still win some pretty big games.